The world has changed for many of us.

Almost gone are the days when a car might roll up next to a child walking home for school or riding a bicycle, and it would turn out to be a neighbor with a message from Mom telling the child to come straight home for dinner.

Nowadays, the neighbor is probably not well known to the child and could be a predator.

So we teach our children not to speak to strangers, to run to the nearest safe haven if approached by a stranger, and even to be careful around people they know from the margins of their lives.

The recent news in Johnson County has been frightening. In five separate incidents in three communities, children have been approached by strangers in ways that made them feel uncomfortable and threatened.

The police in each town have heightened their watch around schools, for which we are grateful.

And the parents of these children apparently taught them well, as all of them took the proper steps to protect themselves.

But it can’t hurt to review the advice given recently by the Cleburne police:

zx Children should walk home with others, not alone. Stay with a group.

zx They should stay on main routes and not take short cuts through areas where are no adults can help if needed. They should make sure their families knows the route the students take home.

zx They should walk on the inside of the sidewalk, away from the street.

zx They should be cautious of adults asking for their help.

zx If they are approached by a person offering rides, they should walk away and never get in a car with an unknown person.

zx They should know safe places to go in case a problem is encountered while walking home.

zx If they have a cell phone, they should know the number of someone to call for help.

Another suggestion is often offered by child safety experts.

Create a code word the child should ask for anytime someone other than a parent will be picking the child up. Train the child to ask for the code word and to refuse help from any adult who approaches them claiming to be acting on behalf of the parent.

It’s a shame we live in a world in which children have to be so wary of adults.

But parents, grandparents and other care givers should take the time to drill the children on these tips so that, as with the recent reports, the news will be that possible predators were foiled again.

This editorial is the opinion of the Cleburne Times-Review

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